Annieke Kranenberg and Janny Groen
Women Warriors for Allah
Radicale moslima’s en het Hofstadnetwerk
Janny Groen and Annieke Kranenberg are the first investigative journalists to have succeeded in penetrating the social world of radical Muslim women. Women Warriors for Allah is the breathtaking story of what goes on in the heads of these young women who seem so impervious and unreachable.
The Dutch secret services recently reported that young Muslim women are allowing themselves to be led astray by extremist young men. This book demonstrates that the opposite is true – the ‘sisters’ quite often develop a more radical outlook than the men. Their lives are completely devoted to Islam, polygamy is not unusual, and for them the internet is a vital means of disseminating the doctrines of the faith.
Groen and Kranenberg carried out their unique investigation in The Netherlands in the seething, tense atmosphere that followed the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004. They talked with heavily veiled young women, who were remarkably frank, mainly because they felt publication would be good ‘dawa’ – a way of winning others to Islam.
For almost two years the two journalists maintained close contacts with a group of Muslim women. They found themselves in an unfamiliar and oppressive world where patiently, by trial and error, they discovered how closely allied the women were to the jihadi-salafistic movement, which permits the killing of those who think differently, while at the same time being thoroughly Western and emancipated. They read glossy magazines as well as the Koran and enjoy watching television soaps.
The authors show that radical Islam in the West is a product of our own time. They write for example about young Muslims secretly entering into so-called supermarket marriages. Little by little they fi nd out why these women in particular are being radicalised. At first they talked mainly about religion, later they began asking questions about everyday life, parents, friends, sex and leisure pursuits.
The authors themselves describe the book as a sketch of the customs and mores of the Dutch fundamentalist Islamic scene, but Allah’s Woman Warriors is far more than that, as American terrorism expert Jessica Stern points out in her foreword. The tolerant Netherlands is often regarded as Western Europe’s ‘laboratory of radical Islam’. This is therefore a crucial document for anyone interested in the process of radicalisation among young people, or ‘home-grown terrorism’. Groen and Kranenberg show that ‘Allah’s woman warriors’ are certainly approachable and in this sense their book is not only important but optimistic.